In a world where sketchy Fiat 850 Spiders are selling for nearly US$10 Grand, there are few classic European roadsters that can still be bought for that amount in anything but “fixer-upper” condition. The Triumph Spitfire stands out as an anomaly, and although far from powerful, a subtly upgraded Spitfire like THIS car available on CraigsList in Southern California for $8,500 makes a great case for driving a slow car fast. Add good looks and an open top, and the case just gets stronger.
A friend and colleague of mine recently passed-away. He was an old-school Brit who had been in journalism, public relations, and public affairs for longer than most of us have been alive – combined. He had a story for every occasion, having been a WW2 kid in London, a Korean War vet, and even a reporter sharing office space with the likes of Andy Rooney at CBS. He also looked and sounded a little like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, but I digress. He was also a car guy, although you’d never have guessed it. A couple of years ago I visited John at his horse farm in rural Virginia, and parked in a corner, without license plates and looking a little forlorn, was a Range Rover Classic. It had seen better days, but he was attached to it. As it happened, John had done some PR work for Range Rover when they finally came to the US in 1987, and his was one of the early trucks to our shores. It was also the truck his daughter grew-up with. He wanted to get the car fixed up one day, but never got the chance. Besides, that one may have been a losing battle.
I cannot tell you definitively if the British or the Italians actually invented the two-seater sports car, but both take credit. My money is on the Brits, at least for cars that the everyman (or woman) could afford, having built some of the most iconic sports cars ever including the MGB, Spitfire, TR6, Austin-Healey, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. By the beginning of the 1980s, however, the roadster ship had all but sunk, cars were bloated and underpowered and the British car manufacturing industry was collapsing. Still, there remained a handful of small niche manufacturers building sports cars for enthusiasts, and TVR was one of them. Find this rare TVR Tasmin 280i convertible – one of 472 1985s –
here on eBay with a buy it now price of $10,950.